Beyond "healthy eating" and "healthy weights": Harassment and the health curriculum in middle schools
In this paper we use data from interviews conducted with grades 7 and 8 girls to explore connections between body-based harassment and girls’ body modification practices. We discuss how the elementary health curricula fail to consider harassment and other cultural factors that influence the body modification practices and eating patterns of diverse girls. More specifically, we argue that the “healthy eating, healthy weights” approach of the grades 7 and 8 Ontario health curriculum has five limitations: (1) it sends contradictory messages; (2) it increases anxieties about body weight; (3) it ignores the multiple causes of eating problems; (4) it marginalizes issues most relevant to racialized girls; and (5) it ignores dilemmas associated with physical development. We conclude with suggestions for developing a curriculum on body dissatisfaction and eating disorders prevention that considers the various socio-cultural factors influencing the range of body monitoring and modifying practices taken up by girls.